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Should I Convince My Boss To Go 64-bit?

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  • Windows Vista
Last response: in Windows Vista
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August 21, 2008 1:08:10 PM

I work for a state government agency as a PC technician. We have approximately 26 programmers, developers and DBAs who will be getting new PCs in about a month. I can't pick the processor they get as we're locked into a contract with Dell (I think they'll be E8200's which don't suck) but I can influence which operating system is chosen and the amount of RAM installed in each machine.

These machines will potentially be running multiple virtual machines as a test environment for the developers and I'm trying to convince my boss to go with 64-bit Vista and maxing out the ram at 8Gb. The virtual machines will be set up to look like our actual production environment so I assume there will be an image of an SQL server, another of a web server, etc.

Bottom line, am I justified in doing this? It seems to me that running multiple virtual machines on one box is going to require a LOT of ram and that 32-bit XP or 32-bit Vista would not be able to handle the load. Any developers out there with similar set ups? My only concern about 64-bit Vista is my lack of experience with the OS. I've heard it can be tricky to find drivers sometimes and do not want to create headaches for our whole development team if I push this on them.

Any thoughts or suggestions out there?

More about : convince boss bit

August 21, 2008 2:45:22 PM

for a business i would go XP-64 something that you know wont break and cause loads of hassle.... then at least 4GB of ram for a few virtual machines.
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August 21, 2008 4:30:39 PM

RAM? Ask for too much. 8gb is what I'd suggest. I gather you're not a fan of right clicking everything to run it, so steer clear of vista
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August 21, 2008 4:36:29 PM

I'd also suggest not using Vista. It'll take up valuable RAM that could be better used to run your virtual machines. 8GB might be a little over-the-top, unless you need to run powerful virtual machines - perhaps 6GB should be enough? Unless of course budget isn't a problem...
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August 21, 2008 5:37:15 PM

The only way to know for sure is to test it, in such a complex environment. Vista 64 is GREAT as a standalone, consumer OS. 64 bit support for Vista is superb and growing VERY rapidly. It WILL be the standard soon. Vista 64 is over the hump and I recommend it highly.

Things get a little trickier when you do what you are doing. Poor VPN support for 64 comes to mind (if you even need that). This board is probably not the place to get this question answered. XP 64 is also a tricky proposition for what you are doing, I would think.

Since you want a lot of ram 64 bit your only route on a MS consumer level OS. If I were you I would simply test it on a few machines for a while. Your answer would come soon enough. Contacting your software vendors would also help get to the bottom of it.

To authorath: only a very limited number of apps require you to right click to 'run as administrator'. You make it sound like this is a routine occurrence. Most apps do not need to run in admin mode. Installing them, yes, running no. Some do, mostly older apps and some games though. This is rapidly fading as these programs get properly updated for the new Vista model.

Admin mode, when needed, is invoked by UAC only when needed. That's what UAC is. This is a vastly more secure environment than running as admin in XP and should be readily embraced by those who are serious about security.

Vista actually consumes only a marginal amount of extra ram than XP. It will USE a LOT more due to the vastly improved caching system called 'superfetch', and this is a good thing. It gets released as needed. The rumors of Vista's ram bloat are GREATLY exaggerated, largely by this misunderstanding of superfetch. Having said that I would not try to run Vista on minimal ram. These days, on new equipment, that is NOT a factor.
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August 21, 2008 5:52:36 PM

In this case there is more than a simple 'Can I use this'.

Yes, Vista 64 works and most users will never notice the difference between 32 and 64 bit. And Yes, I taught my 60+ year old mother to use the OS in a short while, and have had no complaints from her. Which is saying something.

Yes, drivers are no longer an issue provided you use new hardware - Even Creative have finally come up with functional software.


However, the environment you describe isn't simple - Granted, for most users, the actual OS matters little just so long as the tools they use on it run. To use an example - My company deployed some Vista machines among the admin staff... Vista was and continues to be fine. But IT had to go back, remove Office 2007 and roll *that* back to 2003. Why? Because 2007 was too much of a change. The OS didn't matter - The Tools did.

To make a case for it, you'll have to figure out how a Vista 64, or XP 64 for that matter, environment is going to impact the tools your group use. So if you have people using Oracle's tools, or Eclipse, or CodeWarrior, or whatever, you're going to need to check versions to see what runs where and what, if any, issues there could be. You mention virtualization, which can help eliminate potential problems, but you have to be sure the virtualization software you have will run.

Basically: If a different operating system comes in the box and lets you do what's needed, then that's one thing and you may not have much trouble justifying the move. Being able to use gobs and gobs of RAM in a virtualized environment is an advantage worth pursuing. But if the OS demands new tools and software for everyone in the process, that's a significant additional cost. At that point, you may well fail the 'chequebook' test.
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August 21, 2008 8:07:59 PM

Vista 64 can be bad and good in the same breath... it really depends on the vendor that builds the machine what kind of bloatware crap they stick you with.

I recently took the jump to vista 64 in the form of a laptop so I wouldn't have to worry about driver issues etc.

Programs are not an issue at all as vista 64 has an option to run them in xp mode... even 32bit mode if need be.

So I really like that aspect as 64 bit is the future it really doesn't make any sense to go 32bit IMHO.

Problems: well vista 64 is not without them. I recently had a corrupt file problem that was telling me to run chkdsk. The only problem is you can't run this under a user account you must be administrator...

However, even in administrator leaves much to be desired and really shows that M$FT rushed this product out the door. If you log on as administrator and select the disk and try to run chkdsk it will tell you that it has to shut down first.

so schedule a chkdsk and reboot.... hard-soft it don't matter.

vista 64 ignores it and just restarts. So after a good session of googling I found out how to run it... good ole F8 on boot then bring up the command prompt window and make sure your in there on administrator level then from the command prompt>>>

chkdsk /f [fix]
chkdsk /r [recover or repair I forget]

then it works... so who ever works in the chkdsk dept at vista64 was asleep at the wheel.

I'm sure there's more where that came from. I am running vista64 w/sp1

even with these minor nusiances I still like it... just a work in progress as is with any new something or other.
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August 21, 2008 8:45:35 PM

Just make sure you test ALL your software before making the plunge.

We changed over to XP-64 2 years ago, most of it worked, but some mission critical software needed some tweaking at first. XP-64 seems to be fully supported by almost everyone now.

Vista + 64 is another entire step, if all your current software is compatible, I'd say go for it.

We haven't transitioned to Vista yet because our ERP (Enterprise resource management) software vendor only supports Vista 32... which defeats the entire purpose of us moving to the new windows platform.
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August 21, 2008 8:55:27 PM

Best bet, get approval for one system now, replace one system and see the result.

Worst case scenario you're out the cost of one OEM copy of Vista (~150). Its hard to tell what will happen until you have all your software and drivers loaded up and running in full production.
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August 21, 2008 10:57:25 PM

Here's a good way to evaluate 64-bit drivers, applications and services.

http://www.microsoft.com/whdc/system/sysperf/perftools....
[You will also download PowerShell for best results]

These are the tools that Microsoft gives to hardware companies to perf test themselves. They are a little tricky at first but you will get the hang of it. Using the powershell scripts, you'll see that anything slow or unresponsive will be called out in RED with indication of how many seconds it took to start, shutdown, suspend or resume. Works for drivers, services, and applications in the boot path.

Good luck!
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August 22, 2008 2:36:52 AM

If this is any indication that 64-bit is the wave of the future and 32-bit will be “obsolete”…

“There appears to be a shift taking place in the PC industry: the move from 32-bit to 64-bit PCs.
We've been tracking the change by looking at the percentage of 64-bit PCs connecting to Windows Update, and have seen a dramatic increase in recent months. The installed base of 64-bit Windows Vista PCs, as a percentage of all Windows Vista systems, has more than tripled in the U.S. in the last three months, while worldwide adoption has more than doubled during the same period. Another view shows that 20% of new Windows Vista PCs in the U.S. connecting to Windows Update in June were 64-bit PCs, up from just 3% in March. Put more simply, usage of 64-bit Windows Vista is growing much more rapidly than 32-bit. Based on current trends, this growth will accelerate as the retail channel shifts to supplying a rapidly increasing assortment of 64-bit desktops and laptops.”
http://windowsvistablog.com/blogs/windowsvista/archive/...
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